We usually think of air pollution as something outside our home. But the truth is the air inside your home or office can also be polluted—in some cases much more polluted than outdoor air.
In fact, indoor air can be anywhere from two to five times more polluted than outside air (or significantly more), according to numerous studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others. That’s bad news, considering the fact that Americans spend an average of 87 percent of their days within the confines of walls and ceilings, inhaling about 15,000 quarts of air per day. That’s likely to further increase here in the Northeast, as many of us continue to work from home, in addition to winter being right on our doorstep.
So why all the bad indoor air? It’s actually a combination of two contributors. The first is that today’s homes are built to be as airtight as possible for heating and cooling efficiency’s sake. That’s great news for your monthly bills, but not so great for your indoor air quality (IAQ).
The second contributor to today’s poor IAQ is in-home pollution. There are many sources of pollution that exist in modern homes, many of which give us the comfort and convenience we’ve grown attached to. Some of these sources include the following:
The problem with pollution, of course, is that prolonged exposure to it can cause inconvenient—and sometimes dangerous—health issues. According to the American Lung Association, poor IAQ can cause or contribute to the development of asthma and other chronic respiratory problems, along with headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. Airborne toxic mold can also cause health problems, including brain damage.
Some disturbing numbers bear this out: In 1999, about 20 million Americans suffered from asthma, or about 1 in 14. By 2011, the number had increased to around 25 million Americans, or 1 in 12. Increases in cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments have been linked to increasingly poor IAQ.
Improving IAQ can prevent a wide range of health problems and boost your overall sense of wellness in addition to your enjoyment of your living spaces. While some consumer choices—buying construction materials, cleaning products and other goods that contain fewer pollutants—will certainly help, one solution has been making inroads in recent years: whole-house air purifiers.
Air purifiers remove the fine particulates of pollution from the air to improve IAQ. The best of these can capture extremely small particles, including bacteria. Although portable units are available, the most effective models work directly with your HVAC equipment, using your existing ductwork to redistribute clean, filtered air.
As a whole-house solution, air purifiers offer the following benefits:
Best of all, air purifiers produce no significant bump in energy usage if you choose an energy-efficient model!
That’s right! Energy Star notes that the average air purifier consumes 550-kilowatt hours per year in electricity, or approximately as much energy as a modern refrigerator. However, an energy-efficient air purifier with the Energy Star label consumes 40 percent less energy than other models, reducing your air purifier energy consumption by 225-kilowatt hours per year!
You can reduce your air purifier energy consumption even further by pairing the device with a smart plug to link it to your smart home routines. This helps you monitor energy use and remotely control the air purifier from any location via a cellular or WiFi connection.
While air purifiers definitely work, they shouldn’t be used as your only method for improving IAQ. Making better consumer choices, improving home and attic ventilation, maintaining plumbing systems to prevent mold formation and many other steps can reduce the toxic load on your home.
Perhaps even more importantly, it pays to have a professional maintain your A/C and heating systems. They can spot problems and opportunities for improving air circulation in your home.
Stay healthy by installing and maintaining your HVAC equipment and IAQ systems—and save money by choosing an energy plan that works harder for you! Contact Discount Power today to learn more about smart, affordable energy plans and green energy options that will benefit you and the planet now—and well into the future.